The purpose of education serves right when it enlightens the most unaware of nation's population. ASSRA was compelled to take steps to enliven and highlight the potential in the rural children, moved by their perusal and participation in competitive activities.. Initiated in July 2000, the ASSRA School imparts basic education in the rural belt of Patamda block of East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand state, in the villages –Kasidih and Gobarghushi, covering varying age groups through it’s 5 centres. The Basic Education Campaign aimed at bringing the disadvantaged and deprived children into the mainstream of development and has the following innovative features:
Considering the rural belt, it is not easy to convince people to send children to schools owing to several other household jobs at hand. The government schools in many areas of our function lack the capacity to impart competitive knowledge base into the children. The ASSRA School initiated with merely seven underprivileged children with a mission to impart supplementary/non formal education to the drop-outs from Govt. schools and working children in the village. Over the course of twelve years, three more centres have come up in Garigram Village, Amkadhi Village and Lawa Village respectively. All the four centres cover strength of more than 400 children. The programme was extended and replicated in Kusunpur Pahadi, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi in order to impart supplementary/non-formal education to the drop-outs and working children of the migrant labour.
The approach to ensuring basic knowledge to children has proved to be an uphill task yet a roaring achievement in itself.
In the distant rural areas, working as daily wage earners, trekking to forests to collect fuel wood and depending on other minor forest produce to earn their livelihoods is what most youth indulge in. This culminates into not just environmental degradation but also deploration of possible new avenues of economic growth. Hence, the organization initiated numerous income generation activities (with low capital investment) to provide sustainable livelihoods for the local populace.
The local youth are trained in Mushroom Cultivation as a source of sustainable livelihood. Where on one side mushroom as a food has many health benefits, on a commercial scale, mushroom cultivation requires less investment and is a reliable source of income.
A vocational training in poultry farming was imparted to the local youth, with the idea to convert this technology into a sustainable trade. In all, five poultry farms have come up so far with the efforts of ASSRA trainees.
A good tract of land was taken on lease by ASSRA locally and was lent to a group of landless and unemployed to cultivate rice and green vegetables throughout the year. Quite a few women were also encouraged by the organization to cultivate potato and turmeric in the leased land in order to earn a few extra rupees, besides their regular earnings.
ASSRA organized a number of trained teachers to impart training in ‘tailoring’ to the local women of Gobarghushi village in the Patamda block of East Singhbhum District of Jharkhand. A good number of women trainees have started their individual tailoring units as a source of sustainable livelihood.
Promoting local culture and training the village men as well as women in making decorative and usable items from bamboo has given the economy of local people and additional boost. The women in villages, especially have benefitted by involving in these activities. This has improved their social standing and contribution to family income.
Jute, being one of the commercial crops is used in varied ways. Along with the crop produce, the fibres of jute are used for producing curtains, chair coverings, carpets, rugs etc.
ASSRA organized a number of meetings in the Patamda Block to make the rural youth aware of the benefits of agro-forestry. The basic aim was not merely plantation of a few hundred trees, but to create mass awareness in terms making people realize the value of a healthy environment and initiate a mass movement to check deforestation and save the environment. To give impetus to this environmental campaign, varying varieties of plants were grown – like Tick, Gambhar, Sisam, Mango and Eucalyptus. Besides plantation, rural populace was also taught how to cultivate crops in the hilly areas of the region.
The organization initiated an anti-drug drive by counseling the male as well as female populace of Patamda block against drinking and addiction to drugs. This special programme was also aimed at rehabilitating those who were already on drugs and ASSRA was successful in counseling and rehabilitating a good number of such drug-addicts.
Based on our observation of restricted traditional employment possibilities in the rural areas , the organization took an intensive decision to initiate vocational training programmes, income generation activities called ‘Earn while Learn’ entailing less capital expenditure. The activities include mushroom cultivation, poultry, sustainable agriculture, tailoring, block printing, appliqué work, candle making, coir crafts, bamboo crafts, food processing, incense stick making, and eco-friendly paper bag making.
Apart from the above, ASSRA also started a unique initiative of mobile library with twin objectives of engaging the idle youth of the villages in earning their living and further to reach out to cater to enhance the reading habit of the villagers. A group of youth members carry books, newspapers on their cycles and display it in the village panchayatghar (or community hall) where people come to read as per their interest.
ASSRA trainees and beneficiaries have been linked to the market with the help of ARUNIM (Association for Rehabilitation under National Trust Initiative of Marketing), an Initiative of the National Trust, an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhiwhere a huge range of products like appliqué works, home decorative items, candles as well as organic spices and pickles, is sold during international Trade Fairs, religious festivals, etc.
Products made by the trainees / beneficiaries of ASSRA are exhibited and sold during the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) week observed by various companies like Coca Cola Delloite, Cox and Kings, Yamha Motors and others. In fact, many of the women and youth of the villages, who were trained in various vocational trainings according to their interest and willingness have started their own micro ventures independently, thus contributing to the family income.
ASSRA launched an IT Project to disseminate computer basics and the use of information Technology in order to make the primary education interesting and useful for the aspiring youth of Delhi. In fact, a number of computers were hired by the organization to impart training on ‘Computer Hardware and Software’ to the young and needy boys and girls who come to Delhi in search of jobs in the IT field.
ASSRA has created mass awareness among the local people to wage a war against superstitions, exploitation, illiteracy, malnutrition, inequality, exploitation of women and unemployment. The organization has been successful in bringing a good number of the deprived and vulnerable into the mainstream of development.
Recalling the experience of working in villages like Kandlei in Orissa which were long struggling to get access to basic health and sanitation facilities, the organization(ASSRA) decided to participate as well as organize health awareness and check-up camps from time to time. The awareness drives are carried out through the medium of stories and group discussions. Health tips are given to students and their parents on cleanliness; observing personal hygiene on a regular basis;prevention of malaria and skin diseases;use of natural resources like turmeric, neem, etc. which are locally available in abundance.Medicines are distributed free of cost by the organization as prescribed by the doctors to the villagers on the said occasion. A large number of local people are benefitted through these health camps. The medical staff also provides them free medical advice in terms of preventive health care measures. Appropriate Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material is also distributed during these health camps for public awareness.
ASSRA also participates in free health check up camp organized by other organisations like Jharkhand SangharashSamiti, wherein health cards are made or renewed for the villages. Health check-ups are carried out for illnesses like skin diseases, TB, malaria, bone, eye and few other common diseases. The villagers diagnosed with a number of diseases are referred to various hospitals in Jamshedpur.
From a young age, students from the traditional Vedic families of India follow systematic training to become peace professionals – Maharishi Vedic Fellows. From the age of 10 to 20 they follow a special programme of study designed by Maharishi Sh.Mahesh Yogijee. It includes learning the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programme as well as Yogic Flying, studying Sanskrit, and gaining proficiency in performing the traditional Vedic performances that bestow good fortune and peace in the society. Their daily studies earn credits towards Bachelor, Masters and Ph.D. programs.